Last week’s post was about Kobe (こうべ / 神戸), so this week I need to start with べ (be). A very big thank you to everyone who joined in the game of Shiritori this week, including ZoomingJapan and japanaustralia, who both suggested Beppu (別府) and Bessho Onsen (eek – Onsen ends in ん – I can’t use that!), and lovelycomplex22 and Abi who both voted for bento (べんとう). As much as I love bento (Japanese lunch boxes), in the end I decided to write about…
Beppu (べっぷ / 別府)
Beppu-shi (別府市) is a city located in Oita Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, the third largest island of Japan. I’ve never been to Kyushu, but have always known that if I did go there I would have to visit Beppu.
Even though I’m not a huge fan of onsen (hot springs), I’m intrigued by Beppu, which is one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts. In addition to regular hot spring baths, Beppu offers a range of other kinds of baths, including sand baths, mud baths and steam baths.
The reason I would really like to visit Beppu is to go to the ‘Hells of Beppu‘ – a tourist attraction consisting of eight hot springs designed for viewing rather than bathing. The ‘hells’ (地獄 / jigoku) are located in the Kannawa district and Shibaseki district. The six in the Kannawa district are:
‘Sea Hell’, featuring a pond of boiling, blue water and spacious gardens.
‘Shaven Monk’s Head Hell’ – the bubbles of mud in the boiling mud pools are said to look like the shaven heads of monks.
‘White Pond Hell’ – a pond of hot, milky white water.
‘Boiling Hell’, featuring several boiling ponds and a demon statue as cook.
‘Demon Mountain Hell’, where a large number of crocodiles are bred and kept.
‘Mountain Hell’ featuring small ponds of steaming hot water and apparently a run-down zoo with large animals in small cages (which doesn’t sound good if it’s true).
And in the Shibaseki district:
‘Blood Pond Hell’ – a pond of hot, red water.
‘Geyser hell’, featuring a boiling hot geyser which erupts every 30-40 minutes for about 6-10 minutes.
It certainly sounds like an interesting place, doesn’t it? You can find out a little more about the Hells of Beppu on this English hell tour pamphlet.
Naturally, being a very touristy place there are a number of souvenir shops in the area and some unique souvenirs can be bought. Something that caught my eye was this ‘hell steamed ( Jigoku-mushiyaki) custard pudding’, available at Umi Jigoku (according to this article). Some shops sell puddings cooked with the steam, others apparently use the onsen water as an ingredient, but either way these souvenirs sound unmissable!
I’d like to finish with a special mention for Japan Guide, where I got a lot of the information for this post. Japan Guide is an excellent resource for information when planning your trip to Japan. JNTO also have lots useful information, including details about how to get to Beppu. It takes about an hour and 40 minutes to fly from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Oita Airport, or an hour from Osaka Itami Airport. It’s about 45 minutes by bus from Oita Airport to Beppu. Alternatively, if you’d rather not fly, you can take the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kokura Station and transfer to the Sonic limited express train for Beppu. The entire one way trip takes about 6 hours and costs around ￥24,000. If you have a Japan Rail Pass it will take an extra hour because you aren’t permitted to travel on the Nozomi trains along the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen (you need to take Hikari and Sakura trains with an additional transfer at Shin-Osaka Station). As I said above, I haven’t made this journey myself, so please do check this travel information before planning your trip!
Beppu (べっぷ) ends with ぷ (pu), so next week I will be looking for a noun beginning with “pu” (for the first time, I think!). If you have any suggestions, please leave them below and I’ll give you a mention next week. And, don’t forget, no words ending in ん! (^_^)v